Blood Clots Caused by Vax Make J&J, AstraZeneca Consider Re-Engineering Their Jabs

Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Oxford University are teaming up with outside scientists to consider whether modifications to their Covid-19 vaccines would lower risk of serious blood clotting associated with their shots.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports AstraZeneca’s shot might undergo “re-engineering…by next year” although doctors “can’t predict when a retooled vaccine might be ready.”
  • Modifying the vaccine would involve not only scientific hurdles but also changes to ownership rights and regulatory permissions.
  • Scientists need to determine “whether the culprit is one or more ingredients in the vaccines, the purification process, or something mechanical in how the vaccines work,” according to WSJ.
  • Sarah Gilbert—Oxford vaccinologist and co-inventor of the vaccine—has explained that AstraZeneca and Oxford scientists are researching how the vaccine in triggers the immune response that causes the clots.
  • Oxford and AstraZeneca are exploring potential changes to the vaccine’s “delivery mechanism,” according to Prof. Gilbert.
BACKGROUND:
  • According to Johnson & Johnson’s website, “the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” Rather, it has been “authorized” by the FDA through an “Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).”
  • The deployment of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was halted temporarily in April over its link to blood clotting.
  • After investigating, U.S. health regulators added a warning label to the vaccine about the clotting risk.
  • The J&J jabs were also recently linked to increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder. As were the AstraZeneca’s.
WHAT J&J IS SAYING:
  • The company supports “continued research and analysis as we work with medical experts and global health authorities,” said one J&J representative.
WHAT ASTRAZENECA IS SAYING:
  • AstraZeneca has said it is “actively working with the regulators and scientific community to understand” the blood-clotting events and how to implement “early diagnosis and intervention, and appropriate treatment.”
WHY VACCINE COMPANIES ARE CONSIDERING THE OVERHAUL:
  • A major consideration for “people close to the process” in modifying the vaccine is “whether doing so would make commercial sense,” according to WSJ.
  • Alterations to reduce blood clotting have financial implications and “could help turn the shots into moneymakers” for the manufacturers, “especially if booster vaccinations become widely adopted.”
  • J&J and AstraZeneca could “seek to profit from the vaccines in wealthier countries once the pandemic is over,” notes WSJ.